Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer--and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco

Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer--and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco

Robert Graysmith


The first biography of the little-known real-life Tom Sawyer (a buddy of Mark Twain in the course of his short tenure as a California newspaper reporter), instructed via a harrowing account of Sawyer's involvement looking for a serial arsonist who terrorized mid-nineteenth century San Francisco.

When 28-year-old San Francisco Daily Morning name reporter Mark Twain met Tom Sawyer at an area bathhouse in 1863, he used to be looking an issue for his first novel.  As Twain steamed, performed playing cards, and drank beer with Sawyer (a volunteer firefighter, customs inspector, and native hero accountable for having stored 90 lives at sea), he had moment techniques approximately Shirley Tempest, his proposed publication a few neighborhood woman firefighter, and started to ascertain a singular of wider scope.  Twain realized dozen years previous the then eighteen-year-old New York-born Sawyer were a “Torch Boy,” one of many youths who raced prior to the volunteer firemen’s hand-drawn engines at evening wearing torches to mild the best way, constantly conscious unmarried spark might decrease the all-wood urban of San Francisco to ashes in an instant.  at the moment a mysterious serial arsonist recognized via a few as “The Lightkeeper” was once within the strategy of burning San Francisco to the floor six occasions in eighteen months – the main disastrous and expensive sequence of fires ever skilled via any American metropolis.

Black Fire is the main thorough and actual account of Sawyer’s dating with Mark Twain and of the six devastating incendiary fires that baptized one of many sleek world’s favourite cities.  Set amid a scorched panorama of burning roads, melting iron warehouses, exploding structures, and lethal gangs who extorted and governed by means of worry, it contains the never-before-told tales of Sawyer’s heroism through the sinking of the steamship Independence and the the most important position Sawyer and the Torch Boys performed in fixing the secret of the Lightkeeper.  

Drawing on archival assets akin to real San Francisco newspaper interviews with Sawyer and the handwritten police depositions of the arrest of the Lightkeeper, bestselling writer Robert Graysmith vividly portrays the gritty, corrupt, and violent international of Gold Rush-era San Francisco, overrun with gunfighters, hooligans, hordes of gold prospectors, crooked politicians, and vigilantes.  via chronicling how Sawyer took it upon himself to enquire, disclose, and forestall the arsonist,  Black Fire information – for the 1st time – Sawyer’s striking lifestyles and illustrates why Twain may later think pressured to call his iconic personality after his San Francisco blood brother whilst he wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

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